By Matt Weaver
The Dick Trickle 99 on Saturday night at Dells Raceway Park was a testament to everything great about Upper Midwestern Super Late Model racing and ultimately concluded with one of its favorite sons in Victory Lane.
It took Ty Majeski half the race, but he methodically worked through the top-five and ran down leader Luke Fenhaus for the top spot on Lap 54. Once out in front, it was smooth sailing for the 24-year-old as the race remained green all the way through — not allowing 2016 NASCAR Truck Series champion Johnny Sauter to close out his spirited drive from 15th-to-second.
“I was nervous because Dalton Zehr looked good in the beginning, shot out in the lead in front of Fenhaus, and we fired off way too free,” Majeski said. “This wasn’t one of the best cars I’ve had here. I had to adjust my brake bias to stabilize the car, did that, and was able to maintain as other guys just got more and more free.”
Sauter was only entered in the race because NASCAR suspended him earlier in the week for his retaliatory actions against rival Austin Hill under caution at Iowa Speedway. The sanctioning body parked him for a week, but did not take away his playoff spot, essentially giving him a week off.
In true Sauter form, the 41-year-old spent all week preparing his newly-constructed Super Late Model and took it to Dells in a spur of the moment trip with brother Jim Jr. serving as crew chief.
The classic No. 5 was terrible earlier in the afternoon with the Sauter brothers tearing it apart between the heat and the feature and it very well could have won the race had the NASCAR ace been able to qualify it inside the top-five.
As it was, Sauter drove from 15th-to- second in 99 green flag laps and could only get to within half a straight of Majeski — who knew the veteran had something to prove.
“Johnny isn’t a guy who rides and I know he was trying to catch me,” Majeski said. “Our lap times traded off a little bit, but I was a good bit better. I’m sure the fans were hoping for the chance to see a late shootout between me and Johnny.
“We were pretty evenly-matched and it would have been cool to race with him.”
Sauter finally got his own Super Late to his liking in time for the finish and just ran out of time and times to complete an epic comeback in the feature.
“Dalton said it best to me after practice,” Sauter said. “He said my car looked like ‘parking material.’ First time out with a new car and I just missed some stuff. We tried to apply some new tricks to the car and they didn’t work. To be honest with you, I have never changed as much stuff out on a car in my life.
“We went back to some old setups and recovered a little bit. We were junk. I couldn’t even get in the 13-second bracket. All in all, a solid night. We started 15th and finished second to one of the fastest cars in the country in my opinion.”
And just as Majeski suggested, Sauter wasn’t saving his tires for a hypothetical late caution.
“I’m not much of a saver,” he said. “I drive pretty damn hard from start to finish. I was gaining on him until the last 20 or so and then my car just went away.”
Majeski has won ‘Trickle 99’ races at both Dells and during Oktoberfest weekends at Lacrosse Fairgrounds Speedway, so this wasn’t anything new, but the native Wisconsinite said it was always special to win a race named after the state’s most legendary short tracker.
“Dick Trickle was one of the best, period,” Majeski said. “Especially in the Midwest because of his history here. A lot of history with me team because we were affiliated with him. My car owner supported Trickle back in the day. Anytime there is a Trickle race and there’s a hole in the schedule, we’re there.”
And it was a hole in one.